AP NEWS

Somerset County hires new 911 coordinator

May 15, 2019

A new Somerset County 911 coordinator will be starting next week.

During Tuesday’s commissioners meeting, the board voted to hire Brad Lavan to replace retiring Dave Fox, who is leaving Friday.

Lavan, of Somerset, is scheduled to start Monday and will be paid $45,000 a year.

Commissioners Gerald Walker and Pat Terlingo said that they were not part of the hiring and had no comment. Joel Landis, director of the Somerset County Department of Emergency Services, did comment, however.

“Brad Lavan is ambitious and will serve the county well,” Landis said.

Lavan had previously worked as a part-time dispatcher and left for another job April 13. According to LinkedIn, Lavan worked as the senior district executive for the Laurel Highlands Council of the Boy Scouts of America from April to May. Previously, he spent two years as a district executive for the council, according to his page.

“It was a difficult decision,” Landis said. “There were excellent candidates. Mr. Lavan’s varied management experience combined with his previous 911 employment landed him a decision.”

The listing for the position closed at 4 p.m. May 1. Sources have told the Daily American that Landis announced Lavan’s conditional hiring in an email to department employees on May 3.

“I sent an email out stating that we would be taking the name of the candidate to the next commissioners meeting to be hired as the 911 coordinator,” Landis said. “That email was sent to our staff so they knew the name of the person who was going to the next commissioners meeting, which is (Tuesday).”

The Daily American filed a Right-to-Know request for a copy of the email. On Monday county solicitor Michael Barbera denied the Daily American access to the email on the grounds that it involves “internal, predecisional deliberations of an agency.”

The Daily American contends that the email was sent to employees not involved in the decision-making or deliberation process, and the email did not seek additional input on the new hire.

Walker said they fast-tracked the hiring process for the coordinator position.

“Someone had to step in at 911 with Dave retiring, and we kept it on a pretty short timeline,” he said.

While a new coordinator was hired, vacancies still remain in the county’s maintenance department. In January the board hired Matthew Cody Graham to replace Dan Gindlesperger and then dismissed him a day later. Gindlesperger retired at the end of 2018. Graham was hired as maintenance and operations manager. Gindlesperger was the maintenance department director.

There is also an open position caused by the April firing of Eric Trent, a maintenance worker.

Walker explained that current employee Rick Stutzman has the title of maintenance worker supervisor. Terlingo said that he worked as Gindlesperger’s assistant.

“I guess for all intents and purposes his title is supervisor,” he said.

Walker said the department has five fewer buildings to maintain as a result of the Area Agency on Aging hiring its own maintenance personnel in January. He said that there is no timeline to hire anyone in maintenance.

“We should soon have a third commissioner,” he said. “We can re-evaluate things and see what we do and don’t need.”

During the meeting, the commissioners also set the starting salary for water plant operator I, a new position, at $30,000, effective May 10. The county had advertised for a water plant operator II but could not find candidates. Terlingo said the job required a Department of Environmental Protection certification.

“We can bring someone in and get them trained with the idea that they could possibly be certified,” Terlingo said. “It’s very hard, if not impossible, to find certified people.”

Walker said that finding trained operators is a problem for counties across the state.

“We’re not the only ones struggling to find water plant operators right now,” he said.

Somerset County Treasurer Donna Matsko Schmitt voted against the move.

“I just think we should not be creating new positions until we have a third commissioner,” she said.

The commissioners also approved the following personnel actions:

Resignations/separations from employment:

Area Agency on Aging: Robert Carouse, of Berlin, part-time meal deliverer, effective May 8.

County jail: Cody McDonald, of Berlin, part-time correctional officer, effective March 24{&semispace}Briana Porter, of Somerset, full-time correctional officer, effective May 4{&semispace}David Hornig, of Meyersdale, full-time cook, effective May 2.

New employees:

Children & Youth Services: Susan Sleasman, of Somerset, social service aide III, $20,000, effective May 20.

Emergency management: Brad Lavan, of Somerset, 911 coordinator/deputy EMA director, $45,000, effective May 20.

Voter registration: Julia Hoffman, of Somerset{&semispace}Judith Baeckel, of Shanksville{&semispace}Brenda Stevenson, of Boswell{&semispace}and Barbara Koontz, of Boswell, temporary clerks, $10.37 per hour, effective May 24.

Reassignments/promotions:

Area Agency on Aging: promote Amanda Hinzy, of Markleton, from aging case aide to aging care manager I at an annual salary of $24,461, effective May 15.

County jail: promote Kyle Landis, of Berlin, from full-time correctional officer to lieutenant at an annual salary of $42,147, effective May 18, subject to Salary Board approval.